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    Joe’s Special

    Here are a few facts, figures, and notable quotes that I’ve come across recently.  I found them fascinating.  Hope you do, too…

    Eleven fraternal benefit societies are included in the most recent issue of “A.M. Best’s Review of the Top 200 US Life-Health Insurers” – I would never have guessed this to be the case, but numbers don’t lie.  The Best’s report points out a few things: 1) Fraternals can compete with our commercial peers and be relevant providers of financial services in the 21st Century; 2) Fraternals with successful business models provide the most attractive membership benefits and engage in the most meaningful community service projects, strengthening the argument that our tax-exempt status is as valid and valuable today as it was 100 years ago; and 3) Consolidation – either through outright mergers or strategic alliances with other societies – is one of the most effective ways that fraternals can generate the capital needed to better protect members, fuel growth, avoid increased regulatory scrutiny, and enhance our ability to preserve our tax exemption.

    The Dawning of Austerity in Washington Take at look at this report from McBee Strategic Consulting, NFCA’s retained federal advocacy firm, and see what this might mean to your society.  Among the key findings:

    • Concern among the public and lawmakers about the nation’s rapidly mounting debt has reached unprecedented levels, foreshadowing an era of austerity in Washington.
    • The energy in the electorate ahead of the 2010 Midterms resides with three key voter blocs: Independents, the Tea Party movement, and the Republican base. All three of these groups are angry and anxious about runaway spending.
    • We believe it is likely that the intensifying political pressure to bring down deficits will result in increased taxes and reduced spending in areas previously considered untouchable, such as defense and entitlements.

    Charitable giving falls in U.S. According to a recently released report entitled Giving USA 2010: The Annual Report on Philanthropy:

    • Total charitable giving in the United States fell to $303.75 billion for 2009. This is a 3.6 percent decline compared with the revised estimate of $315.08 billion for charitable giving in 2008. The decline is 3.2 percent after adjusting for inflation. In light of the difficult economic conditions present during 2009, this decline was not as severe as might have been expected.
    • Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University Executive Director Patrick M. Rooney said, "By maintaining giving at 2.1 percent of GDP in spite of the most severe recession since the Great Depression, donors have made it clear that giving is important to them. Americans continued their generous support of charitable causes in 2009, and especially those focusing on vital human needs." Read more in the press release.
    • You can purchase the full report online at www.givingusa2010.org or download the executive summary PDF for free. The report provides not only data and analysis of giving, but also includes specific information related to sources and recipients of contributions, and fundraising tips. The report also provides links to studies related to fundraising that were released in 2009.

    Is Your Society “Tweeting” Yet?  — Check out this article from the Chicago Tribune to see how banks are using this tool to communicate with their customers.

    Learn where NFCA stands on key issues We’ve added a new feature to the NFCA Web site – a list of all policy positions on the key issues affecting fraternals and their members.  We’ll update this as the association becomes more aggressive advocates for the long term health of the fraternal system.  I encourage you to visit the new policy page and familiarize yourself with the association’s positions on these key issues.

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